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Guide to Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

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With fewer than 1065 mountain gorillas that are left on earth today, Uganda is one of the only three unique countries where you can strike your imaginations with these world’s most dramatic creatures while in their natural habitat. For authentic experiences or you are eco-tourist on safari in Africa, Uganda is that one country that should not miss on your bucket list. Gorilla trekking is generally a life time experience and in Uganda, it takes you through dense, lush forested Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the southwest.

Where to go for gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla treks in Uganda are only possible in habituated families and about 17 of them have been habituated and have been set for tourism and research. In Bwindi National Park treks are done within the 4 main tracking areas of Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo and Rushaga sectors. Each of them has habituated families and while on gorilla safari, the available habituated groups for you to track include Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Bitukura, Mishaya, Nkuringo, Nshongi, Katwe, Christmas, Busingye, Kahungye, Bweza, Nyakagezi a mention but a few.

What to expect on gorilla trek in Uganda

On Uganda gorilla safari, treks are done in only Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park southwestern side just along the Albertine rift valley-at the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. Besides catching a glimpse at mountain gorillas, a visit to these parks also rewards travel endeavors with other incredible activities like bird watching, hiking, cultural encounters and many more.

Visitors are assigned to only one habituated family to track in a group of 8 visitors. While with a group of these large apes, you have only an hour to spend with them face to face-take as many photos as possible, explore their behaviors and body gestures. The treks start with briefing on dos and don’ts for gorilla trekking by park official. You will be led by a park ranger guide and trackers who take you through a 2 to 8 hours’ trek via a steep slopes, dense vegetation with your packed lunch and bottled water. To be part of this life changing experience, you have to be well-prepared and physically fit to complete your trek. Note only persons above 15 years are allowed to track mountain gorillas.

Gorilla permits in Uganda

Visitors who wish to take part in this life changing experience need to have a permit. Interestingly, the cost of gorilla trekking permits in Uganda is relatively cheaper with each permit costing $600 compared to $1500 in Rwanda. You are advised to book for your permit early enough before the actual trek and you can do so through a ground tour company or through a reservationist at Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Getting to Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park

To get to these two national parks, you can do so by road or by air. By road, you need a good 4 wheel safari vehicle that takes you from Kampala/Entebbe via Masaka-Mbarara route and it will take you about 10 hours or more on road to reach to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Alternatively, you can take a flight from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield and land into Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip where you can easily connect to any park of your choice to track mountain gorillas.

Best time to visit Uganda for gorilla trekking

A trek to see mountain gorillas can be done at any time of the year however, most trekkers prefer tracking gorillas in the dry season which starts from June to September and December to February. Besides, you can as well track these creatures in the wet season which begins from March to May and from October to November. Each of these seasons has advantages and disadvantages.

The dry spell is ideal for gorilla trekking the fact that the habitat remains drier hence making it easier for trekkers to hike through the steep slopes and thick forests. The challenge with this season is that there less food for these creatures to feed on compared to wet season. However, it is also possible for you to track mountain gorillas during wet season although the challenge with it is that the ground remains wet/muddy thus making more challenging for trekkers to hike through the dense vegetation and slippery steep slopes.

Where to stay while on gorilla safari in Uganda

The notable lodges for you to spend a night while on gorilla safari in Uganda include Clouds Lodge, Chameleon Hill Lodge, Mahogany Springs, Gorilla Forest Camp, Buhoma Lodge, Mount Gahinga Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Camp, Ruhija Gorilla Mist Camp, Engagi Camp, Silverback Lodge and many others.

Packing list for gorilla trekking in Uganda

While packing for gorilla trek in Uganda, you need to consider essentials first and that said, the following items shouldn’t miss out-water proof hiking boots, energy giving snacks, insect repellents, first aid kit, gardening gloves, long sleeved shirts or t-shirts, walking stick but this can be got at the park headquarters, camera with no flashlight a mention but a few.

In conclusion, compared to Rwanda and DR Congo, Uganda features all the two parks that visitors can pay a visit to track mountain gorillas. A trek to see these creatures in Uganda’s jungles is remarkably a lifetime experience.

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